The Linux Foundation has unwrapped an effort to develop a close to the edge network operating system with the backing of online retail giant Amazon, amongst others.
The DENT project aims to develop an operating system for disaggregated network switches in campus and remote enterprise applications, with its initial focus, apparently, on retail.
According to the announcement, “DENT hopes to unify and grow the community of Silicon Vendors, Original Design Manufacturers (ODM), System Integrators (SI), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and end users to create an ecosystem of contributors around a full-featured network operating system.”
It goes onto add, “Remote campus locations and retail stores require a simple networking OS stack that is low cost and Linux-based. “
It adds, “The project uses the Linux Kernel, Switchdev and other Linux based projects to allow developers to treat networking ASICs and silicon like any other hardware. It simplifies abstractions, APIs, drivers and overheads that currently exist in these switches and on other open software. “
Given the focus on retail and remote, DENT – and by extension its biggest backer Amazon – is not initially going head to head against Cisco’s core market, though the networking vendor does have offerings up and down the network stack.
For its part Amazon, does have its own retail outlets, but is also a major consumer of networking firepower both on its own account and via its AWS business. By replacing enterprises’ own data centres, it reduces their need to buy Cisco kit. Presumably, Cisco will be warily eyeing the retailer to cloud cloud provider to see what other unpleasantness it delivers.
The announcement includes statements from backers including Mellanox, Marvell, and Cumulus Networks. But not, curiously, from Amazon.
Not so curiously, perhaps, clicking on the company logos of the backers on the DENT website, takes you to a statement on the putative OS, or simply to their landing page. Except for Amazon, which redirects to the Amazon front page, which advises you of Happy Holiday deals.